Fitness Man stretching outdoors

Published on April 5th, 2013 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles

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It’s A Spring Thing!

by Healthy Gay Lifestyles

With winter holding on for what seemed like forever this year, I could hardly wait to get out on the trails and feel the sun on my face. For me nothing cleanses the soul better than walking, jogging, or running the trails in sunny weather. And lord knows at the end of a Nebraska winter I am in much need of some vitamin D for a boost of “feel good” again.

It’s that “Spring Thing” that makes me want to get into shape. But where do I start? How do I avoid sore muscles? And how often do I have to exercise to look my best?

Check With Your Doctor First

Regular exercise can help you to control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if you haven’t exercised in a while and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new routine.

Although moderate physical activity, such as fast walking, is safe for most gay men, health experts suggest that you consider talking to your doctor before you start an exercise program if any of the following apply:

  • You have heart disease
  • You have asthma or lung disease
  • You have diabetes, or liver or kidney disease
  • You have arthritis
  • You’re a gay man older then age 45
  • You smoke or you quit smoking in the past six months
  • You’re overweight or have too much junk in the trunk
  • You have high blood pressure or high cholesterol

Create Realistic Fitness Goals

Gay men tend to spend a lot time dwelling on our current state of overweight and how out of shape we are. That sort of self-defeating thinking doesn’t help. Sit down and figure out a realistic goal you want to achieve. Do you want to run one mile or five? Swim 2 laps or 20? Climb every mountain or maybe just that silly sidewalk in your neighborhood? Whatever it is write it down and keep it in front of you. The refrigerator is a good place, or maybe your desk at work.

Perhaps one of the most important components of setting effective and realistic fitness goals is to reward yourself when you reach them, even the small ones! From buying yourself a new magazine to read, enjoying a new healthy restaurant, or buying a new pair of workout shorts, the reward should be a time where you compliment yourself for your hard work and success.

Stretch It Out

Regardless of your age, flexibility, or level of fitness, we should always loosen our muscles before starting our walk, jog or whatever. It only takes minutes and consistency to reap the rewards:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased range of movement in the joints
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Increased circulation of blood to joints helping to alleviate arthritis
  • Increased energy levels (resulting in from increased circulation)
  • Reduces risk of injury from exercising
  • Post exercise stretching helps to decrease muscle soreness and helps to alleviate lower back pain.

 Stretching comes naturally to all of us, it feels great and if done consistently can produce large gains in flexibility and joint movement. Be kind to your muscles and they will be kind to you. Always start and end your exercise routine by stretching.

Slow & Easy Big Boy

You may have been able to jog five miles last fall, but right now you can only jog one. Just run one for now knowing you will continue to run farther as you get into better shape. This is also a good time to think about strength training, since strong manly muscles, ligaments, and tendons help prevent injury. Try the following routines to ease back into shape:

  • Walk at a comfortable pace for 2 minutes, then quick-walk at your fastest speed for 1 minute; repeat for 45 minutes.
  • Jog at an easy pace for 2 minutes, then run at a fast pace for 1 minute; repeat for 30 minutes.
  • On a treadmill, walk at a 5% incline for 2 minutes, then raise it to a 12% incline for 1 minute; repeat for 45 minutes.
  • Bike at a comfortable pace for 2 minutes, then speed-pedal for 1 minute; repeat for 45 minutes.

It’s All About Consistency

Improvement and change occur when you do things often. Stopping and starting all the time will kill any momentum you need to succeed. When you exercise with consistency, your muscles will develop gradually and your mind will experience reduced levels of stress and greater relaxation.

A well thought out fitness plan will go a long way in helping you to reach your goals. To achieve consistency, you will want to think about the types of exercise that you can do on a regular basis. You will want to exercise at least three to four times a week for the best results. Getting a gym membership, purchasing home exercise equipment, investing in exercise DVD’s or buying a bicycle may be some of the things you want or need to work out with consistently.

A Balance of Diet & Exercise

Getting back into shape isn’t just about exercise. It’s about your total health. If you’re running daily like a mad man and then going home and eating too much of all the wrong things you’re just not going to reach balance in your health. Try eating more fruits and vegetables, cooking at home more often, and bringing healthy homemade lunches to work. When we combine the right eating habits with building muscle tissue and do the right kind of cardio for burning off unwanted fat, we will find balanced health and look our best.

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